Bishop Gregory G. M. Ingram - Chair, Commission on Publications
The Reverend Dr. Johnny Barbour, Jr., Publisher
The Reverend Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor III, Editor, The Christian Recorder
1. EDITORIAL – THE GENERAL CONFERENCE IS A MASSIVE OPERATION AND WE OWE A DEBT OF THANKS TO ALL WHO ARE MAKING IT HAPPEN:
Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor III
The 20th Editor of The Christian Recorder
Shortly, we will be departing Nashville, Tennessee to attend the 48th Quadrennial Session of the General Conference that will be held in St. Louis, Missouri.
General Conferences are always exciting and the fellowship is second to none; the General Conference is a thrilling place to be; but it’s a busy, busy time. Attending the General Conference is not a vacation.
A lot of work goes into the planning and executing of a General Conference. The work for this General Conference probably began 8 to 12 years ago and the planning intensified at the close of the 2004 General Conference. Planning and executing a General Conference is a multi-million dollar project even before the General Conference begins. Think about the number of hotel rooms for delegates, alternate delegates, and visitors that have to be coordinated. Safety issues have to be considered and medical personnel have to be employed. Planning has to be coordinated to insure enough food and drinking water are available for the thousands of attendees. Wheel chairs and motorized scooters have to be coordinated for the physically challenged. Transportation to and from the airport, and around the site of the General Conference have to be coordinated. Coordination has to be made with restaurants for the dietary preferences of the attendees; there are ethnic considerations when restaurants plan menus for different sets of conventioneers; they are in the business to make money. AMEs love to eat and meet and we like our fried chicken.
Police and other emergency personnel have to be coordinated; lost and found operations have to be put in place; booklets have to be assembled; chairs have to be put up and taken down; elaborate sound systems have to be constantly tweaked. Security has to be in place, Marshals, ushers, choir and musicians’ duties have to be coordinated. Signage and rules have to be coordinated in such a way that all procedures are understood by everyone.
And, I haven’t touched the surface about all that’s needed in preparing for a General Conference. Registration procedures and all that goes with it, to include the technology needed insure that things will run as smoothly as possible needs to be tweaked every hour, twenty four hours a day until the General Conference ends.
It may take a “village to raise a child,” but it takes AMEs from all over the world to prepare for and execute an AME General Conference.
We all owe a debt of thanks to the leadership of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, to include all of the bishops and general officers, the elected leadership of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; to the Connectional Officers; to all of the pastors, to the laity, to all of the volunteers, and especially to all of the deceased and retired bishops and retired general officers; retired presiding elders, retired pastors, and the retired laity and those who have “gone on to glory,” who laid the foundation and upon whose backs we stand, that makes all of the planning and execution of this General Conference possible.
And a special thanks to Bishop John Bryant, Presiding Bishop of the Fifth Episcopal District, General Conference Host; to Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, Chairperson of the General Conference Commission, Dr. Clement Fugh, General Secretary and Dr. Richard Lewis, Chief Financial Officer for the AME Church; and for all of the people who work with them.
We say, thank you!
The Christian Recorder will now consist of Breaking News, News Breaks and Daily General Conference Reports until the General Conference ends on July 11th. Those who are subscribed to The Christian Recorder Online will receive Breaking News, News Breaks and Daily General Conference Reports; there will be no postings on The Christian Recorder Online Website until after the close of General Conference.
Editor’s Note: Yes, I am running for re-election, as are all of the active General Officers.
2. RESPONSE TO EDITORIAL AND OTHER ISSUES:
- To the Editor:
RE: Editorial - Generalities do not tell the whole story and often distorts the truth and a response to a couple of the letters to the Editor:
As it relates to the so-called "whining" of the Katrina victims and the so-called "resiliency" of the flood victims in Iowa; what about the deceased persons who, for days, were left in the streets for all to see! FEMA, thank God, has improved (we hear and we hope). I had begun to think that perhaps any victims of post-Katrina disasters should ignore government help and just concentrate on whatever they could do to help themselves. And, yes, we do hear quite a few generalizations in sermons.
I would like to make a comment about the contents of the letter from writer who is a member of the Reformed Church in America. I understand his feelings about all those ads because I don't particularly like to see all that space devoted to them for months leading up to the General Conference, but as you explained it's a phenomenon of this time before the General Conference. Your response was appropriate and helpful. Since he seems to want to know more about our denomination, I'm especially glad that you invited him to read other AME periodicals. That would be an excellent way for him and others to learn and absorb more of what makes us AMEs tick. The problem is, as I see it is that he doesn't know anything about our periodicals, nor has he read any of them. In reality, this gentleman seems much more interested in our Church than some of the members of the AME Church.
The letter about worship leaders was an interesting letter also. I remember Bishop Cummings said, "If you're asked to pray, pray. If you're asked to sing, sing. If you're asked to read the scripture, read the scripture." That was about NOT making all those preface-statements and other remarks when you're only supposed to "do your job." Same is true for worship leaders. How nice it would be if they'd just move the program along steadily, in the direction intended.
Invocation joke from "Upward Journey": Sioux Nichols Taylor told about the preacher who was listed on the program to give the Invocation. When it was his turn he stood before the audience and said, "Invocation. Now, what shall I say about this great subject: Invocation?" Someone behind him whispered, "Pray, fool! Just pray!" Another "A.M.E. experience": "Flying Parker," at Daniel Payne College, whose reputation was that when he got "the spirit," he'd jump the pews - 6-8 of them at a time. Sioux didn't believe it until she saw it with her own eyes when she was 10-11 years old; still remembers it. And another one: The man with those powerful words of wisdom who said, "If you want God to help you, you've got to insult (consult) him." And the one who described an "unpossible situation"; how about the preacher who tried to talk about the Iliad and the Odyssey and said, instead, "The Iliad and the Idiodicy"; and one who introduced Bishop Nichols as his "most ornery (honorable) Bishop."
Ministerial education and training are important.
*Mrs. Jeanette Johns is the author of The Upward Journey, the personal stories of Bishop Decatur Ward Nichols
- To the Editor:
RE: Shuttle information from airport to hotel
Thank you so much for this very helpful travel information! We have been quite concerned about road conditions in light of the weather news coming out of the Midwest. My husband (also a retired military man - US Air Force) and I plan to drive my mother (who will not fly) from the East Coast to the site of the General Conference. I have contacted the hotel in St. Louis and also have been in contact with AAA and the Missouri Department of Transportation. However, your information is most reassuring. Thanks again.
By the way, I believe that you provide a valuable service to all AME's and other interested readers through your online and hard copy editions of the Christian Recorder. I am a subscriber of both and feel that I am kept up-to-date on church news, especially in the case of the online edition. Thank you for your commitment to excellence in journalism.
Catherine E. Harris, Ed.D.
3. DR. DENNIS DICKERSON LAUNCHES THE ONLINE VERSION OF THE A.M.E CHURCH REVIEW:
The A.M.E. Church Review goes online.
The A.M.E. Church Review is the oldest black literary journal in the United States and possible the world. The online version of The A.M.E. Church Review will maintain the same historical, theological and religious focus and literary excellence as the hardcopy edition of The A.M.E. Church Review.
Get a peak at what’s to come: http://www.the-ame-church-review.org
*Dr. Dennis Dickerson is the Historiographer/Executive Director, Department of Scholarship and Research for the AME Church.
4. AGAIN—WE COME:
Dr. Jamye Coleman Williams,
Retired AME General Officer
Every four years we come to a place and at a time agreed upon to conduct the business of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. We come from our homes, our local churches, our cities, our towns, our hamlets. We come from near and far—as near as the adjacent counties and states; as far as the peaceful waters of the Pacific and the rolling waves of the Atlantic; as near as the overflowing mighty Mississippi and as far as the distant shores of the Caribbean and Mother Africa. And we come!
I personally come here in the autumn, or perhaps the winter, of my life with a feeling of poignancy to this my 11th General Conference. From the 1940 General Conference held in Ebenezer AME Church in Detroit to 2008 is a long time—time for which I am truly grateful and for which I feel truly blessed. I come also with a feeling of nostalgia—for the many faces I miss, those we have loved long since and lost awhile. I think especially of my General Officer colleagues who so recently left us—A. Lee Henderson, my classmate; Cecil Howard, my former student; and George Champion, with whom I sat at the CONVO in Dallas. As always at any AME gathering one misses the energetic, enthusiastic Joseph C. McKinney, who meant so much to the laity and ministry alike.
But back to the present—we come as we have for so many years with our memories and our hopes. Today as we come we might well remember the dreams of our fore-parents—those whose dreams ignited a spark of inspiration for future generations. Our early bishops had a burning desire for learning. It is not surprising, then, that the first university to be owned and controlled by African Americans was a result of the dream of Daniel Alexander Payne, our 6th bishop, who purchased on faith Wilberforce University. James A. Shorter, our 9th bishop, was a part of this effort. Bishop Payne also became the president of Wilberforce and, therefore, the first black university president. In succeeding years the AME Church was responsible for some 22 colleges/universities at one time, with six surviving to this day—Wilberforce University, Allen University, Morris Brown College, Paul Quinn College, Edward Waters College, and Shorter College. Two AME seminaries train our ministry and religious workers—Payne and Turner.
Our memories are also as old as the interest of the early fathers in journalism. It is, indeed, a source of pride that the AME Church is responsible for the oldest black newspaper—The Christian Recorder and the oldest black literary journal, The AME Church Review. As we look back we become aware of the “many dangers, toils and snares” that we as a denomination have overcome. We also acknowledge our successes and triumphs—the many achievements to which we lay claim.
Because of our past we also come to this place at this time with our hopes. Alexander Pope reminds us that “hope springs eternal in the human breast.” Many of the problems, issues, and concerns which we have at this moment in our history are the same ones which have been lifted up time and time again. But as the spiritual sons and daughters of Richard and Sarah Allen, we cannot be discouraged. As the heirs of the zeal of William Paul Quinn and Henry McNeal Turner, we cannot be dispirited. We cannot be pessimistic as the legatees of Reverdy Cassius Ransom, who used as his subject for the Quadrennial Sermon at the 30th Session of the General Conference, New York, 1936—“The Church that Shall Survive.”
And survive we must and will. To survive with excellence and not mediocrity, we must decide to consider and resolve the serious issues, the critical concerns, and the difficult problems. So we come with our hopes. We hope that this General Conference will listen carefully to the reports of the Revisions Committee and enact only the legislation which is needed and which we intend to implement. Likewise, we hope that this delegated body will respond positively to the report of the Strategic Plan, which has involved so many dedicated persons, so many hours, and so much money. We should take seriously the recommended legislation which will make for an improved church.
We hope that there will be recognized the need for greater fiscal accountability and transparency at all levels of the church. This need is reiterated from the bench to the pew. At this General Conference we should realize that it is no longer possible to conduct adequately the business of the church on tithes and offerings. The Development Officer we have talked about for years should finally become a reality. A church that boasts almost two hundred years of organized history should not ever need to rely on a line of credit to survive during certain periods of the year.
A critical look at the problems which confront us from time to time suggest that there is a disparity between what we proclaim as law and how we practice it. We hope there will be a careful examination of the laws in our Book of Discipline and either follow or change them. We must decide that we cannot continue to conduct the affairs of the church as if we had not come into the 21st Century. We do this at our own peril. We older members, the Moses generation, will continue to move into eternity, and there will be a dearth of the Joshua generation to take our places. Not only our members but our ministers will no longer be satisfied with the status quo and will leave our ranks. We will continue to be challenged by the loss of local churches. But there is still time to reclaim our ancient heritage and become a connectional Church unafraid to embrace needed change. In this connection we hope that in an effort to preserve our history, traditions, and identity we will seek a balance in our worship and liturgy that will be sensitive to both the Moses and the Joshua generations.
We hope also that there will finally be the realization that we do, indeed, need some one person to speak for the AME Church. Over and over again this need is lifted up by some of our bishops, ministers, and laity. There is no one responsible to follow through on the action we take or to monitor our activities. There is no one who has the authority to speak out on national issues when an immediate response is needed.
These are not just personal hopes, but they represent what we hear from the Lobby Committee and what I hear from the NTLG (the Nothing to Lose Group).
Finally, I come with my personal hope. As I have for the last two General Conferences (2000 and 2004) I continue to keep my promise to Women in Ministry (WIM) to assist them in eliminating the gender barrier in the episcopacy. That promise was to support the effort to attain more equitable representation for the largest population, the backbone of the local church—the women! We pierced the glass ceiling but slightly in 1984 with my election as the first woman to become a major General Officer (Editor of The AME Church Review). The WIM and the Connectional Lay Organization in 2000 signed on with me with a Resolution which many consider the catalyst that helped shatter the glass ceiling and elect the first female bishop—Vashti Murphy McKenzie. Again in 2004 the glass ceiling was shattered even more with the election of two more women—Carolyn Tyler Guidry and Sarah Frances Davis. I come now in 2008 seeking support in helping me keep my promise to assist further in the elimination of gender bias. Please save one vote for Ann Lightner-Fuller, a worthy candidate whose successful ministry, personal integrity, and deep spirituality will further enhance the episcopacy.
To God be the glory for all that we shall do. May we do the right thing and always be on the right side of history.
5. THE 8TH MID-YEAR MEETING CONVENED BY BISHOP RICHARD ALLEN CHAPPELLE:
*Mrs. Ann Gilkey
The 8th Mid-Year Meeting for the Tall, Talented, Tough, Terrific, and Tantalizing Twelfth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church convened on April 10, 2008 at Greater Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Little Rock, Arkansas under the leadership of the dynamic duo of Bishop Richard Allen Chappelle and Mother Barbara Jeanne Chappelle.
The host pastor, Rev. Nolan Watson and the members of Bethel left no stones unturned as they greeted us on arrival at the unofficial meeting, Executive Board, before the meeting on Wednesday night, April 9, 2008. The Episcopal District Officers enjoyed a wonderful dinner before the business meeting. Bishop Chappelle introduced his brother, Mr. Joseph Chappelle, who told stories of Bishop back “in the day.” The District Secretary, the Rev. Charles Frost, passed out the official program booklet.
The business session of the conference open on Thursday Morning, April 10th at 10:00 a.m. with a different twist. The opening worship was scheduled for Thursday night and the conference focused on the committee assignments and meeting that was normally scheduled for later in the day.
The state of Arkansas is sometimes called Tornado Alley, and we experience a Tornado threat right in the middle of the conference. You could feel the wind and the rain as it came down and hear the siren, a signal to take cover because a tornado had been spotted. For safety reason, the meeting was dismissed and everyone was instructed on areas within the church that would be considered safe.
Immediately after lunch, the committees were meeting in their assigned area to discuss their work for the conference year.
The Presiding Elders in their appropriate clergy attire and robes on Thursday night, April 10th showed unity as they entered wearing the Twelfth District stole at opening worship. This was the first Episcopal District meeting for Presiding Elders Clarence Guy -Arkansas Conference-North Little Rock/Fort Smith District. Presiding Elder Thomas G. Allen, President of the Presiding Elder’s Council was the worship Leader for the hour.
Other Presiding Elders in attendance were:
The Rev. Edward E. Davis- Oklahoma Conference, Oklahoma City District; the Rev. Lonnie Johnson-Oklahoma Conference, Lawton District; the Rev. Pollie W. Ragsdale-Central Northeast Oklahoma, Tulsa District; the Rev. Dennis Hampton-Central Northeast Oklahoma, Muskogee District; the Rev. Johnny Kelley- East NE Arkansas Conference, Stuttgart/Forrest City District; the Rev. Napoleon Davis, Jr.-East Northeast Arkansas, Newport/Jonesboro District; the Rev. Clarence Reynolds-Central Arkansas, Camden/El Dorado District; the Rev. Thomas G. Allen-Central Arkansas Conference, Pine Bluff / South District; the Rev. James R. Hooper-South Arkansas Conference, Monticello District; the Rev. Samuel L. Arnold-South Arkansas Conference, Crossett District; the Rev. Clarence V. Boyd-West Arkansas Conference, Hot Springs District; and the Rev. Eugene Brannon-Arkansas Conference, Little Rock District.
Bishop C. Garnett Henning, presiding bishop of the Eighth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which includes the states of Mississippi and Louisiana, was the minister of the hour and set the stage as he proclaimed that the church needs a visit of the Holy Spirit. His title,” Coming Up Empty,” text John 21:1-7 centered on how the disciples had abandoned their mission and purpose and was looking for something meaningful and familiar and did not recognize the spirit of Jesus. They needed to know that even when you can’t see him, he is still there. Always let Jesus fill your cup!
The Business Session of the conference on Friday morning opened with the General Assembly at Bethel AME Church. The Commission and Departments met at 10:00 a.m. and dismissed around 2:00 p.m. to prepare for the Retirement Celebration.
The WMS under the leadership of Mother Barbara Jeanne Chappelle and Sister Charolette Martin, Episcopal President met for the 12th District WMS Business session at 10a.m. The Seven Conference Presidents were all in attendance with 4 new presidents. Sister Saundra Lucas- Oklahoma Conference (new), Sister Jackie Neely-Central Northeast Oklahoma Conference (new), Sister Kaye Person-East Northeast Arkansas Conference (new), Sister Barbara Boyce- Central Arkansas Conference (new), Sister Emma Swift- South Arkansas Conference, Sister Mary Wilson -West Arkansas Conference, and Sister Phyllis Johnson, Arkansas Conference.
Visitors were Mrs. Carol Messiah, wife of Bishop Wilfred Messiah, 20th District and Dr. Rosa M. Baxter, the Editor of the “The Women’s Missionary Society Magazine.”
The 12th Episcopal District celebrated “A Legacy of Excellence” on Friday night, April 11th at the State House Convention Center in Little Rock, Arkansas where over 800 AME’s assembled to honor our Episcopal couple. Mrs. Birdie Boyd, wife of Presiding Elder Clarence Boyd, West Arkansas Conference-Hot Springs District assisted by Mrs. Anita Brannon, wife of Presiding Elder Eugene Brannon, Arkansas Conference-Little Rock District left no stones unturned for the Retirement Celebration, 32 years of Connectional Service for our Episcopal Leaders, Bishop Richard Allen Chappelle, Sr., and Dr. Barbara Jeanne Chappelle, Episcopal Supervisor.
The following bishops traveled many miles to attend the retirement celebration: Bishop Philip R. Cousin, Sr., Senior Bishop, Bishop John R. Bryant, Class of 88 (Bishop’s Class) Bishop McKinley Young, President of the General Board, and Bishop Henry Allen Belin, Jr., General Officer/Bishop. Bishop Wilfred J. Messiah, District 20, President of Bishops Council, Bishop Gregory Ingram, District 10, Bishop T. Larry Kirkland, District 9, Bishop Robert V. Webster, District 3, and Bishop Adam J. Richardson, Jr., District 2.The following Retired Bishops were in attendance, Bishop Z.L. Grady, Bishop Vernon R. Byrd and Mother Beverly Thomas, Widow of Bishop Robert Thomas, Jr., Class of ‘88.
The 12th Episcopal District Ministers and Lay Members were happy to see our General Officers, the Rev. Dr. Dennis C. Dickerson; Dr. Richard Allen Lewis; the Rev. Dr. George F. Flowers; the Rev. Dr. Clement Fugh; the Rev. Dr. Johnny Barbour; the Rev. Dr. James C. Wade; the Rev. Dr. Daryl B. Ingram; and the Rev. Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor III.
On Saturday, April 12th, the WMS sponsored a Scholarship Breakfast under the supervision of the First Vice President, Mrs. Lyndajo Jones. A play titled, The Chappelle Missionary A.M.E. Church, written by Rev. Beverly White was presented for entertainment and enjoyed by all.
The General Conference Delegates met at 9:00 am Saturday morning and organized.
The leaders selected for the General Conference delegation were Sister Martha Simpson and Rev. Isaac Hudson. The delegates elected from the 12th Episcopal District Annual Conferences were: the Rev. Eugene Brannon, the Rev. Randolph Martin, the Rev. James H. Thomas, the Rev. Thurston B. Lamb, the Rev. Diane L. burl, the Rev. Nolan Watson, Dr. Flossie B. Green, Dr. Lillian R. Springer, Mrs. Lyndajo Jones, Ms. Tracy Beck, Dr. Cora D. McHenry, Mr. Eric Dailey, the Rev. Dr. W. R. Norful Sr., the Rev. Michael Washington Sr., the Rev. Reginald Cleaver Sr., the Rev. Allison A. Howell, the Rev. Hazel Linton, Mrs. Dorothy L. Henderson, Mrs. Kathy L. Fletcher, Dr. Levenis Penix, Mrs. Thelma Y. Denton, Ms. Ketra L. Ross, the Rev. Michelle K.T. Moulden, the Rev. Pollie W. Ragsdale, the Rev. Marcellus Fields, the Rev. Winfred T. Brown, Mrs. Jackie Weary, Ms. Jackie Neely, Mrs. Veola West, Ms. Morolyn Ester, the Rev. Lewie A. Norful, the Rev. Napoleon Davis Jr., the Rev. Keith Granberry, the Rev. Mary V. Williams, the Rev. Moses Green, Ms. Yvonne Stovall, Mrs. Carolyn Anderson, Mrs. Kaye B. Person, Mrs. Laverne Nelson, Mr. Marvin Simmons, the Rev. Edward E. Davis, the Rev. Lonnie Johnson, the Rev. Harvey G. Potts Sr., the Rev. Isaac N. Hudson Jr., Mrs. Saundra Lucas, Ms. Patricia Davenport, Mrs. Bettye J. Moulden, Ms. Ragan Green, the Rev. Tyrone A. Broomfield, the Rev. James R. Hooper, the Rev. Samuel L. Arnold, the Rev. Gwain Hammock, Rev. Kent J. Broughton, Mrs. Emma Swift, Ms. Rae Robinson, Mrs. Deborah Daniels, Mr. Martha Fisher Simpson, Ms. LaShonda Taylor, Mr. David Fielding, the Rev. Larry M. Banks, the Rev. Angela B. Piggee, the Rev. James H. Giles Sr., the Rev. Clarence H. Guy, the Rev. Gregory E. Guinn, Dr. Clarence V. Boyd Sr., Ms. Patricia Roberts, Dr. Anna Burnett Graham, Ms. Lillie Gulley, Mr. James Davis, and Mr. Corian L. Wilson
The Rev. Shirley Spencer, pastor of Greater Shady Grove, Wilmar, Arkansas was the Worship Leader for the Closing Service on Saturday April 12, 2008. We held on as the preacher of the hour, the Rev. Jeff Carr, pastor of Saint Paul, Morrilton, Arkansas Conference started a fires burning with his text from Jeremiah 8:4-8, 10-12, as he focused on the subject, “Be Still, for there is Peace at the Cross.” He emphasized, “When there is trouble around us and we feel the Lord is talking to us, simply be still and listen and let his grace and mercy guide us to peace. Remember he died for us, so look to the cross.”
We were blessed to have wonderful music and “hats off” to our 12th District Music Director, Mrs. Cordellia Bennett, Brother LaBaron Mizer, Music Director for the Arkansas Conference, Brother Jason Bivens, Arkansas Conference Musician and the Conference Choirs.
Forty appointments were made during this closing convocation. We would like to acknowledge the appointment of our newest Presiding Elder, the Rev. Roger Alford, Presiding Elder of the Central Northeast Oklahoma Conference, Muskogee District.
Special thanks was given to the Rev. Nolan Watson and the entire Bethel A.M.E. Church family for their hospitality, delicious meals and far reaching love during the 8th Mid-Year Conference of the 12th Episcopal District.
Bishop and Mother Chappelle were given a standing ovation for their guidance, love and spirit that has culminated to be one of the best Mid-Year Conferences ever and their last as the dynamic duet of the 12th District!
*Mrs. Ann Gilkey is the 12th Episcopal District Public Relations Director
6. HIWASSEE COLLEGE LOSES ACCREDITATION, CONTINUES TO FIGHT:
Editor’s Note: Hiwassee College is a United Methodist related school
Jul. 1, 2008
A UMNS Report
By Annette Spence*
Hiwassee College leaders say they will not close the Tennessee school's doors, but will work to regain accreditation after losing a long legal battle with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
The college's board of trustees voted unanimously to "move forward" after learning of a court decision that allowed SACS to terminate the United Methodist-related school's accreditation.
Now, as faculty members greet students and parents during routine orientation meetings, they are assuring them that Hiwassee still has a strong academic program and is building its financial standing as the college reapplies for accreditation.
"We're not talking about litigation now," Hiwassee President James Noseworthy said June 27 from his office in Madisonville, Tenn. "We're talking about being faithful to our mission."
On April 14, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit lifted a temporary restraining order on SACS that had kept it from terminating Hiwassee's accreditation since March 2005. Hiwassee was immediately removed as an accredited institution with SACS' Commission on Colleges.
Hiwassee subsequently requested a rehearing from the same three-judge panel, which denied the request on May 6.
Founded in 1849, Hiwassee College is a two-year rural United Methodist college, affiliated with the Holston Annual Conference. Noseworthy, who has served as Hiwassee president since 2003, said the school's legal actions were "very costly, but good for several reasons."
"It kept us moving forward, and it demonstrated that we are not going to just roll over," he said.
Hiwasee's legal action started in 2004 when SACS voted to remove the school's accreditation over concerns about its financial resources. Hiwassee leaders said the college was financially sound and obtained a restraining order in 2005 to keep the school's accreditation during appeals processes. Hiwassee then sued for violations of its constitutional right to due process, filing its lawsuit in 2005 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. SACS is based in Decatur, Ga.
In February 2007, U.S. District Judge J. Owen Forrester rejected all Hiwassee's claims except the one claiming a conflict of interest existed when a SACS representative on the assessment team also sat on the accrediting body's appeals committee. In April 2008, appellate judges said SACS had not denied Hiwassee due process in its accreditation action and unanimously upheld the lower-court ruling.
"Unfortunately, this is just another bump in the road," Noseworthy said. "There was always a chance we wouldn't prevail … but we are proceeding full speed ahead with our mission."
"Any missional institution is challenged financially," said the Rev. Doug Fairbanks, an alumnus who is a member of Hiwassee's board of trustees and superintendent for Holston's Knoxville District. "What we have proven is that, yes, we can financially do all we say we can do. The academic program at Hiwassee has never been in question."
Hiwassee College is finishing the 2007 fiscal year with its $5.5 million budget in the black. "We have erased levels of debt, started new programs and improved our facilities. And we have done all of that with a very modest budget," Noseworthy said.
An annual fundraising campaign garnered $862,000 in June 2007, followed by $2.2 million in June 2008, he said.
School enrollment was 440 for the past academic year. About 150 students had registered to return, but some have since petitioned for transfer, the president said. Orientation sessions for prospective students are ongoing.
Hiwassee will begin to reapply for SACS accreditation this summer--a process that could take 19 months or more for accreditation to be complete, according to Noseworthy.
The college already has applied for accreditation with the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRANS). In a June 23 letter to students, Noseworthy said that TRANS accreditation is anticipated by April 2009. More than 20 colleges have so far agreed to accept Hiwassee's academic work without SACS accreditation, the letter stated.
The Tennessee Student Assistance Commission also has made provisions so that students may continue the state's Hope Scholarship eligibility. "While the scholarship for students at Hiwassee will not be funded while we are not accredited, the scholarships will be funded retroactively to the fall of 2008 if we secure accreditation in April 2009," Noseworthy said.
On June 19, the University Senate of The United Methodist Church voted to continue to list Hiwassee as a United Methodist-related college for 12 months as the college pursues accreditation. A University Senate review is scheduled for June 2009.
The senate is a 25-member body of professionals in higher education that determines the relationship of academic and theological institutions to The United Methodist Church.
In a letter to the University Senate, Bishop James Swanson of the Holston Conference affirmed his support for Hiwassee.
"Hiwassee follows it historic and continuing tradition of affording access and opportunity to a segment of the population that otherwise would not have the opportunity for a faith-centered education," Swanson said.
The average family income for Hiwassee students is $22,000, Swanson's letter stated. Forty percent of the students receive full financial support.
*Spence is the editor of The Call, the newspaper of the Holston Annual Conference.
News media contact: Linda Green, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Used with the permission of the United Methodist News Service
7. EPISCOPACY AND CLERGY CONGRATULATORY NOTICES:
- Bishop Frederick Hilborn Talbot and Dr. Sylvia Ross Talbot will celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary on Friday, July 11, 2008.
Congratulatory messages can be sent to:
Bishop Frederick and Dr. Sylvia Talbot
240 Ashington Court
Brentwood, TN 37027-4362
Email message can be sent to: email@example.com
- Congratulations to Evangelist Chariece J. Smith and the Rev. Marcus A. Cylar who were married on Saturday, June 14, 2008 at St. Stephen A.M.E. Church in Detroit, Michigan. The wedding was held at 11:00 o'clock a.m.
Evangelist Chariece is the daughter of the Rev. Deborah Smith-Satterwhite and Edwin Satterwhite. Rev. Deborah Smith-Satterwhite is the Pastor of New St. John A.M.E. Church in Dearborn, Michigan and the granddaughter of the late Birdtrice J. Smith.
The Rev. Marcus Cylar is the son of Ken Cylar and the late Sadie Cylar. Rev. Marcus Cylar is an Associate/Youth Minister at Oak Grove A.M.E. Church in Detroit, Michigan. Rev. Marcus and Evangelist Chariece are working hard in the Ministry. We Praise God that these young people sought to "Seek God first.”
Congratulatory messages can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lauren Alexandra Wilson, daughter of Rev. Melvin E. Wilson and Michelle Clemons-Wilson (pastor and first-lady, St. Luke AME Church, New York, NY), graduated from New Rochelle High School, New Rochelle, NY on Wednesday, June 18, 2008. She will be attending Wilberforce University in August majoring in Political Science.
Congratulatory messages can be sent to: Stlukeamec@aol.com
8. CLERGY FAMILY BEREAVEMENT NOTICE: None
9. CLERGY FAMILY BEREAVEMENT NOTICES AND CONGRATULATORY ANNOUNCEMENTS PROVIDED BY:
The Clergy Family Information Center
Bishop Carolyn Tyler Guidry, Chair
Commission on Social Action
Ora L. Easley, Administrator
AMEC Clergy Family Information Center
Phone: (615) 837-9736
Voice Mail: (615) 833-6936
Fax: (615) 833-3781
Cell: (615) 403-7751
10. CONDOLENCES TO THE BEREAVED FROM THE CHRISTIAN RECORDER:
The Chair of the Commission on Publications, the Right Reverend Gregory G. M. Ingram; the Publisher, the Reverend Dr. Johnny Barbour and the Editor of The Christian Recorder, the Reverend Dr. Calvin H. Sydnor III offer our condolences and prayers to those who have lost loved ones. We pray that the peace of Christ will be with you during this time of your bereavement.